Winning Life

An

The

Introduction to Buddhist Practice

© 1998, 2000 SGI-USA

Published by World Tribune Press 606 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90401 All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Contents
The Winning Life The Practice The Process The Roots Suggested Reading 5 11 21 33 45

to feel and show true compassion for others. to have fulfilling relationships. and the power to face and surmount our deepest problems.The Winning Life E ach of us possesses the potential for a winning life. Within us is the ability to live with courage. Crucial to living a winning life is to undergo an inner transformation that will enable us to bring out our highest human qualities and . to enjoy good health and prosperity.

Maybe your boss is belligerent or ignores you. Consider the following scenario: Perhaps you feel underappreciated at work. This is a common scenario in today’s working environment. or that you have a bad attitude.” But whatever the reasons. Your compassion leads you to have empathy for your boss’s situation. Of course there are myriad reasons for your attitude and all of them “valid. an individual human revolution. Perhaps your co-workers or boss perceive you in turn as not being entirely committed to the success of your job. After a while you develop a chip on your shoulder. Opportunities present themselves. you treat your boss differently. This process is a revolution of our own character. confidence and compassion. Armed with a new understanding.6 The Winning Life change our circumstances. every once in a while it rears its ugly head. But suppose you start coming to work with a new attitude that is not just a mental adjustment but an outlook bolstered by a deep sense of vitality. Though you may be an expert at hiding negativity. offering support and finding yourself less and less discouraged by any negativity he or she may display toward you. Your boss begins to see you in a new light. you miss opportunities for advancement because of the poor relationship. . and based upon serious self-reflection.

It is the promise of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism that we can attain a state of freedom and unshakable happiness for ourselves while creating harmony with others. we can have continual impact on the people around us. Thus. In treating the sufferings and delusions of human beings. Buddhism is a way of life that — on the most fundamental level — makes no distinction between the individual human being and the environment in which that person lives. self-improvement and enhancement of our circumstances go hand in hand. like a never-ending domino effect. to a Buddhist. The two are actually so interlocked that it is incorrect to consider them separate entities. Like a fish in water.The Winning Life 7 This is obviously a very simple example and many of us would say this is a natural thing to do. but to live this way every day requires a basic change in our hearts and character. It provides us with immediate access to the unlimited potential inherent in our lives by which we can live a winning life. but each serves as a catalyst for the other. there is the accompanying benefit of better social . the two are not only inseparable. Once the change is made. The practice of Buddhism as taught by Nichiren Daishonin is a catalyst for experiencing this inner revolution.

since the one is the source of the other — for better or worse. confidence. by tapping into our potential. confident in our ability to surmount whatever life throws in our path. our own lives are expanded. Buddha actually means “awakened one. vitality and endurance. When our capacity increases and our character is strengthened. It explains that when we help others overcome their problems. the source of our problems comes under our control. Instead of avoiding or fearing our problems. hope. our . Similarly. we can find unlimited wisdom. compassion. Because we make an internal change. This could be likened to a rosebush in winter: the flowers are dormant even though we know that the bush contains the potential to bloom. Buddhism also shows us the most satisfying way to live among others.” and the historical Buddha (known as Shakyamuni or Siddhartha Gautama) discovered that all humans have a potential for enlightenment — or “Buddhahood”— in the depths of their lives. it is also a description of the highest state of life each of us can achieve. courage.8 The Winning Life conditions. we learn to confront them with joyful vigor. While the word Buddha may conjure up images of a specific person from history or world religions courses we have taken.

Life is ever-changing. the next minute we can be overwhelmed by even the simplest occurrences. daily practice. But through our steady. The only constant in life is change. wresting positive resolutions in any number of astounding yet tangible ways. we continually strengthen our resolve and ability to live a winning life. but the very pursuit of those desires through our practice is like rocket fuel propelling us toward our enlightenment. “magnetizing” our lives to attract that which will further our happiness. Through this process of inner reformation. Not only do we fulfill our desires as we change ourselves through Buddhist practice. however. Being human. Winning in life. and while one minute we may have the courage to conquer the world. moment to moment. almost by definition. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism recognizes that to be human means to have desires and that as we proceed in our human revolution we elevate our state of life. is not the absence or avoidance of problems. . Our minds are constantly in flux. Rather than calling for the eradication of desires. we can also fulfill our dreams and desires.The Winning Life 9 relationship with our problems changes as well.

overcome it.10 The Winning Life means we will constantly meet up with challenges. Inside each human being is a storehouse of all the necessary traits to tackle every problem that confronts us. Buddhism is the practice that allows us access to this storehouse and unleashes our inherent power to take on all of life’s challenges and win. and become stronger and wiser in the process. . True happiness or victory in life is having the tools to take on each hurdle.

The recipe is universal. . or Buddhahood. we will experience actual proof of our transformation in the forms of both conspicuous and inconspicuous benefit. They are the primary ingredients in the recipe for developing our innate enlightened condition. These basics are the same in every country where this Buddhism is practiced. All three are essential.The Practice T here are three basics in applying Buddhism: faith. practice and study. With this recipe.

But how can we have faith in something with which we have no experience? Unless a religion can provide benefit to the believers’ daily lives and help them overcome their struggles. along with chanting Nammyoho-renge-kyo. Practice for ourselves is primarily the chanting of Nammyoho-renge-kyo. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism emphasizes obtaining “actual proof ” of the teaching’s power. Each morning and evening.12 The Winning Life Faith — Traditionally. Practice in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism consists of two parts: practice for ourselves and practice for others. Today. Practice — To develop faith. faith is based on experience. In Buddhism. if we are willing to try the practice and anticipate some result. At the start of our journey. we will then develop our faith brick by brick as examples of actual proof accrue. We strengthen our wisdom and vital life force by actualizing our Buddhahood each day in a very concrete way. they cannot become happy by practicing it. without any proof of the religion’s assertions. Faith begins as an expectation or hope that something will happen. includes recitation from two significant chapters of the Lotus Sutra—chapters which . religion has asked its believers to have faith in its tenets before accepting the religion. many religions lack the ability to truly empower people to change. believers participate in a ritual that. we must take action.

Today. The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) was formed to support practitioners of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism and help them teach others about it on a global scale. The basis of study comes from the founder himself. More than 700 years ago. similar to what we are undergoing through our own engagement with Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. . he instructed followers in the correct way to practice.” starting on p. and his writings. there are some 12 million members in 163 countries. give us valuable insight into how this practice will benefit us today. it is essential to study the tenets of this Buddhism.The Winning Life 13 explain that each individual holds the potential for enlightenment and that life itself is eternal. Study — To gain confidence that this practice is valid and to understand why your efforts will bring about a result. The development of our compassion through such practice for others is also a direct benefit to us. and the American branch is called the SGI-USA (for more information. This ritual has been traditionally referred to as gongyo (literally. Practice for others consists of action based on compassion to help give others the means to make fundamental improvements in their lives. which have been preserved and translated into English. Nichiren Daishonin. 33). “assiduous practice”). see “The Roots.

) There are also English translations of the original teachings of Buddhism. By helping to build understanding and confidence. the Lotus Sutra. we attune our lives to the perfect rhythm of the universe. The result is increased vital life force. such as the Lotus Sutra. practice and study. This is the name of the Mystic Law that governs life eternally throughout the universe. the study material provides vital encouragement for us — especially at crucial moments. All life is an expression or manifestation of this law. wisdom. The basic prayer or chant is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. (See “Suggested Reading” at the back of this booklet.14 The Winning Life The SGI has prepared numerous study materials that offer deeper looks at Buddhist theory. Thus when we chant this Mystic Law. as well as practical applications through members’ testimonies. The translation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is as follows: Nam — Devotion. By devoting our lives to this law through our faith. we will awaken the . Nichiren Daishonin revealed this law as the underlying principle contained in Buddhism’s highest teaching. compassion and good fortune to face the challenges in front of us.

Life itself is an endless series of . When we look into our own mind at any moment. As the Daishonin explained in one of his writings: “What then does myo signify? It is simply the mysterious nature of our life from moment to moment. With each cause made. see “Suggested Readings”). It is neither existence nor non-existence. We create causes through thoughts. to its manifestations” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin. for many differing thoughts continually occur. which the mind cannot comprehend or words express. Myo is the name given to the mystic nature of life. Myoho — Mystic Law. inside ourselves. and those effects are manifested when we meet the right environmental circumstances. Life is indeed an elusive reality that transcends both the words and concepts of existence and nonexistence. Yet we still cannot say it does not exist. p. we perceive neither color nor form to verify that it exists.The Winning Life 15 life-condition of Buddha. yet exhibits the qualities of both.” which seeds and blooms at the same time. The mind cannot be considered either to exist or not to exist. or enlightenment. Renge — Literally. the “lotus flower. It is the mystic entity of the Middle Way that is the ultimate reality. words and actions. an effect is registered simultaneously in the depths of life. and ho. This represents the simultaneity of cause and effect. 4.

we experience the energy and wisdom to make our lives fulfilled. often referred to as the language of the Buddha. which is heard.16 The Winning Life causes and simultaneous effects. And by chanting. Nammyoho-renge-kyo is the ultimate invocation of life. In the sixty years since this Buddhism has been widely accessible through the efforts of the Soka Gakkai worldwide. Unlike in most Western religions. . millions have chanted about every conceivable problem and goal. There are no prerequisites or rules as to what to chant for. Nichiren Daishonin added namu (contracted to nam). We simply make the decision to begin chanting Nammyoho-renge-kyo. when we chant we are not praying to an external deity invested with human qualities like judgment. from the most dire health and financial crises to the most urgent matters of the heart. which comes from Sanskrit. This is how the Buddha has traditionally instructed — through the spoken word. Our prayers are communicated into the depths of our being when we invoke the sound of the Mystic Law. Myoho-renge-kyo is the Lotus Sutra’s title and contains its essential meaning. Kyo — Sound or teaching. Chanting Nam-myohorenge-kyo is the deepest cause we can make in order to produce our desired effect.

The first milestone after beginning one’s practice is to receive the Gohonzon. It is important to understand that our prayers are realized because we bring forth from within ourselves the highest life-condition and the wisdom to take correct action. they may decide to make a deeper commitment and begin a more complete Buddhist practice. (For information on how to receive the Gohonzon. we attain enlightenment through a continual transformation that takes place in the depths of our existence as we seek to fulfill our desires and resolve our conflicts.) . and believers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to a scroll form of the Gohonzon enshrined in their own homes. As the Daishonin teaches. the object of devotion for Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. and no prayer is more or less worthy than another. Once people begin experiencing the benefits of chanting. please ask your sponsor or contact the SGI organization at the address given at the back of this booklet. The only issue is whether we can create value in our lives and help others do the same. The Daishonin inscribed his enlightenment in the form of a mandala called the Gohonzon.The Winning Life 17 This universal Law is impartial.

we also need a stimulus. or Buddhahood. For instance. but another person might say something that sparks a show of temper.18 The Winning Life In the Gohonzon. our Buddhahood. and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to it is the internal cause that will activate the latent state of Buddhahood in our lives. And when we fuse our lives with the Gohonzon by chanting Nammyoho-renge-kyo to it. As our conviction develops. to begin changing what we don’t like and strengthening what we do like. It is a way to see inside. which appear when we come in contact with various external stimuli. The scroll of the Gohonzon is kept in an altar in the . This is why the Daishonin calls the Gohonzon a mirror for the inner self. which is the enlightened life-condition of the universe. we will come to see that the Gohonzon is the most positive external stimulus. We have the potential of many life-conditions. To bring out our highest potential condition of life. the Daishonin graphically depicted his enlightenment. This temper or anger was dormant inside until provoked by the environment. someone may be rather mild-mannered and quiet. we tap into that enlightened life-condition. The important point here is that the same potential for enlightenment exists within each of us. our own Buddhahood.

” The duration of any particular chanting session is up to each individual’s preferences and needs. The complete morning and evening ritual. Reciting the sutra is a supplementary practice. How often do we chant? Our basic ritual. and offering silent prayers. is like fuel for an engine. As we start to see actual proof of the power of our . however. When the two are combined. is carried out diligently each morning and evening. and we feel the confidence of performing in top condition. the primary practice. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. it is most effective. should become the basis of our daily practice. Most new practitioners will experiment with chanting until they experience something tangible. sort of like a “test drive. a special time when we can communicate directly with the rhythm of the universe.The Winning Life 19 practitioner’s home where it can be protected from the daily routine of the household. like adding oil to that engine. We are also free to chant as often as we like and to our heart’s content. which includes chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. reciting sections of the Lotus Sutra.

This sharing with others is another key to developing our inner potential for enlightenment. The SGI’s ultimate purpose is to contribute to the establishment of a peaceful world where all people experience happiness. Practicing Buddhism to overcome our own problems or circumstances gives us insight we can share. we naturally come to share our experiences with friends and encourage them to try practicing as well. We can make our lives larger and experience a stronger life-condition by endeavoring to help others. .20 The Winning Life Buddhist practice. It is the altruistic interaction with people in our daily lives that will help us grow and become enlightened. This way of life founded on compassion is instrumental in helping us strengthen our own Buddha nature. or Buddhahood. we can begin to show our own transformation so that others will be encouraged to find out the source of our great changes and newfound personal freedom. we can encourage others to practice. This is not only Buddhist theory — most people recognize the satisfaction and growth that accompany their efforts to truly help others. We can chant for our families and friends.

We do not need to understand exactly how this Mystic Law works before we can make use of it to our advantage. is far too profound . which Buddhism postulates. it is an actual state of life based on the Mystic Law of the universe.The Process T he Buddha nature is not just a happy feeling or existential bliss. Although we cannot see the law of gravity. The law of life (Mystic Law). Laws of nature require neither our understanding nor our belief in them. we can attest to its existence.

Buddhism’s view of eternal life. we go permanently to some beautiful hereafter such as heaven or some horrific eternal torture chamber known as hell.22 The Winning Life to be fully discussed here. repeating the cycle of birth and death. This is the law of cause and effect. Again. We make myriad causes every day through our thoughts. For every cause. the roses will bloom (birth). This is karma. Buddhism explains that our lives possess an eternal and unchanging aspect. but the essence of our lives — our eternal identity. with myriad causes engraved in it — continues in a form that cannot be seen. Death then becomes the potential for life. our life functions may stop. there must be an effect. Everything we’ve done until this moment adds up to who we are. words and . and when the correct external circumstances are present. Like going to sleep at night. We live many lifetimes. posits that one’s life or essence has no real beginning or end. a few basic concepts can be explained as follows: Eternity of Life Some religions teach that we live only one lifetime. death is just like a rosebush in winter. which contains the potential for flowers (life) within. Nonetheless. we refresh our bodies and wake up anew. however. and when we die. When we die.

This principle suggests we can change our karma or destiny that we may have thought unchangeable. As we live our lives (making causes). Buddhism says that. therefore. in essence. this law of cause and effect is simultaneous. it may not appear instantly. This is the great hope and promise offered by Buddhist practice. those effects dictate the circumstances of our birth in the next life. our karma is like a bank balance of latent effects we’ll experience when our lives meet the right environmental conditions. In fact. While in theory all we have to do is make the best causes to get the best effects. an effect is registered like a seed planted in the depths of life. we still face the same problems or karma from causes we have made. and when we die. many times we feel we have little . and for each cause we receive an effect. this law is symbolized by the lotus flower. the effect will then transform from potential to actual. When the correct external circumstances appear. effects reside within us. which seeds and blooms at the same time. The moment a cause is created. why people have different karma. This goes a long way to explaining why people are born under such different circumstances—in other words.The Winning Life 23 deeds. Looked at another way. When we are reborn. While the effect is planted the same instant the cause is created.

at each moment. When we practice Buddhism. the condition of anger may seem more powerful than our general nature. That is. A prime example is when we get angry at and say something we don’t really mean to people who are close to us. they are: Hell — This is a state of suffering and despair. however.24 The Winning Life control over the causes we make. in which we perceive we have no freedom of action. From lowest to highest. Each of us possesses the potential for all ten. and we shift from one to another at any moment. The Ten Worlds One way that Buddhism explains life is through a concept known as “the Ten Worlds. according to our interaction with the environment. At such times.” These are ten states or conditions of life that we experience within ourselves and which are then manifested throughout all aspects of our lives. we can establish Buddhahood as our basic condition of life and face our circumstances filled with wisdom and compassion. It is characterized by the impulse to destroy ourselves and everything around us. one of the Ten Worlds is being manifested and the other nine are dormant. Hunger — Hunger is the state of being controlled by .

In the world of Animality. we are ruled by instinct. we are highly vulnerable to strong external influences. we operate by the law of the jungle. Humanity (also called Tranquillity) — This is a flat.The Winning Life 25 insatiable desire for money. . We are strongly attached to the idea of our own superiority and cannot bear to admit that anyone exceeds us in anything. a sense of physical well-being. Animality — In this state. in this state we are at the mercy of our cravings and cannot control them. Anger — In this next state. awareness of ego emerges. In this state we value only ourselves and tend to hold others in contempt. power. distorted ego. or inner contentment. passive state of life. determined to best others at all costs and seeing everything as a potential threat to itself. so to speak. While we may generally behave in a humane fashion in this state. status or whatever. We exhibit neither reason nor moral sense nor the ability to make long-range judgments. Heaven (or Rapture)— This is a state of intense joy stemming. greedy. While desires are inherent in any of the Ten Worlds. for example. from the fulfillment of some desire. from which we can easily shift into the lower four worlds. We will not hesitate to take advantage of those weaker than ourselves and fawn on those who are stronger. but it is a selfish.

and we begin to seek some lasting truth. They have in common the fact that their emergence or disappearance is governed by external circumstances. indeed our whole identity. Take the example of a man obsessed by the desire to find someone to love him (Hunger). In these six lower worlds. These two states plus the next two. he feels life is no longer worth living. By and by. come about when we recognize that everything experienced in the six paths is impermanent.26 The Winning Life Though intense. Crushed by despair (Hell). Bodhisattva and Buddhahood. we base our entire happiness. many of us spend time shuttling back and forth among the six paths without ever realizing we are being controlled by our reactions to the environment. on externals. his possessiveness drives his loved one away. potential rivals appear on the scene. In this way. and he is seized by jealousy (Anger). Any happiness or satisfaction to be gained in these states depends totally upon circumstances and is therefore transient and subject to change. he feels ecstatic and fulfilled (Heaven). the joy experienced in this state is shortlived and also vulnerable to external influences. are together called the . The next two states. The six states from Hell to Heaven are called the six paths or six lower worlds. When he at last does meet that person. Learning and Realization. Eventually.

Bodhisattva—Bodhisattvas are those who aspire to achieve enlightenment and at the same time are equally determined to enable all other beings to do the same. in this state we realize that any happiness we alone enjoy is . Learning—In this state. their search for truth is primarily self-oriented. Realization—This state is similar to Learning. these four higher states are achieved through deliberate effort. which are passive reactions to the environment.” Having realized the impermanence of things. Unlike the six paths. except that we seek the truth not through others’ teachings but through our own direct perception of the world. However.The Winning Life 27 four noble worlds. and they may become satisfied with their progress without discovering the highest potential of human life in the ninth and tenth worlds. Learning and Realization are together called the “two vehicles. so there is a great potential for egotism in these two states. In addition. we seek the truth through the teachings or experience of others. they often tend to be contemptuous of people in the six paths who have not yet reached this understanding. people in these states have won a measure of independence and are no longer prisoner to their own reactions as in the six paths. Conscious of the bonds that link us to all others.

the enlightened state of Buddhahood. The states from Hell to Bodhisattva are collectively termed “the nine worlds. Buddhahood —Buddhahood is a dynamic state that is difficult to describe. and absolute happiness. For example. Also. a life purified of illusion. the state of Buddhahood is physically expressed in the Bodhisattva Way or actions of a Bodhisattva. human beings were born in the world of Humanity.28 The Winning Life incomplete. in which we are enlightened to the ultimate truth of life. we can resolve harmoniously what appear from the standpoint of the nine worlds to be insoluble contradictions. It is characterized by infinite compassion and boundless wisdom. The Mutual Possession of the Ten Worlds The Ten Worlds were originally thought of as distinct physical realms into which beings were born as a result of accumulated karma. and we devote ourselves to alleviating others’ suffering.” This expression is often used in contrast to the tenth world. Those in this state find their greatest satisfaction in altruistic behavior. animals in the world of . In this state. We can partially describe it as a state of perfect freedom. A Buddhist sutra describes the attributes of the Buddha’s life as a true self. perfect freedom from karmic bonds throughout eternity.

and the loss of a loved one will plunge us into Hell. have the ever-present potential to manifest Buddhahood. The sight of another’s suffering may call forth the compassionate world of Bodhisattva. And equally important is that Buddhahood is found within the reality of our lives in the other nine worlds. The vital implication of this principle is that all people. and it has been established by each . a person now in the state of Hell may. we experience different states from moment to moment in response to our interaction with the environment.The Winning Life 29 Animality and gods in the world of Heaven. one of the ten will be manifest and the other nine dormant. all of us have one or more worlds around which our life-activities usually center and to which we tend to revert when external stimuli subside. This is one’s basic life-tendency. but there is always the potential for change. In the course of a day. For example. However. not somewhere separate. either remain in Hell or manifest any of the other nine states. in whatever state of life. In Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. This principle is further expressed as the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds — the concept that each of the Ten Worlds possesses all ten within itself. At any moment. at the next moment. the Ten Worlds are instead viewed as conditions of life that all people have the potential to experience.

Establishing Buddhahood as our basic life-tendency does not mean we rid ourselves of the other nine worlds. The Oneness of Life and Its Environment The principle of the oneness of life and its environment describes the inseparable relationship of the . However. Without the instinctive desires represented by Hunger and Animality. The purpose of Buddhist practice is to elevate the basic life-tendency and eventually establish Buddhahood as one’s fundamental state. we will still continue to experience the joys and sorrows of the nine worlds. Based on the life-tendency of Buddhahood. All these states are integral and necessary aspects of life. and we will not define ourselves in terms of them. they will not control us. our nine worlds will be harmonized and function to benefit both ourselves and those around us. we could never feel true compassion for others. sleep and reproduce ourselves. we would forget to eat. Some people’s lives revolve around the three evil paths. some move back and forth among the six lower worlds. and soon become extinct. Even if we establish Buddhahood as our fundamental life-tendency.30 The Winning Life individual through prior actions. and some are primarily motivated by the desire to seek the truth that characterizes the two vehicles. Without experiencing the sufferings of Hell ourselves.

Each living being has his or her own unique environment in which the effects of karma appear. Environment here does not mean one overall context in which all beings live. we are justified in drawing this distinction. First. Since both life and its environment are one. manifest themselves both in one’s self and in the environment. For example. People generally have a tendency to regard the environment as something separate from themselves. The environment is the objective realm where the karmic effects of life take shape. as already . whichever of the Ten Worlds an individual manifests internally will be mirrored in his or her environment. Life manifests itself in both a living subject and an objective environment. However.The Winning Life 31 individual and the environment. and from the viewpoint of that which we can observe. The effects of one’s karma. the individual and the environment are one and inseparable. a person in the state of Hell will perceive the environment to be hellish. while a person in the world of Animality will perceive the same environment as a jungle where only the strong survive. both good and bad. “Life” indicates a subjective “self” that experiences the karmic effects of past actions. because these are two integral phases of the same entity. from the viewpoint of ultimate reality. This idea has important implications.

The principle of the oneness of life and its environment is the rationale for asserting that the Buddhist practice of individuals will work a transformation in society.32 The Winning Life mentioned. greater respect from others. communities. we need not seek enlightenment in a particular place. From this standpoint. Buddhism expands the entire reality of life and shows the way to live a winning life—the most fulfilled existence. we will not be crushed by adversity but can command the strength and wisdom to use it constructively for our own development. Our enlightenment is therefore not confined to ourselves but exerts an influence on our families. under whatever circumstances. nations. and so forth. as we accumulate good karma through Buddhist practice. in the form of improved material circumstances. This is an act of freedom whereby we liberate ourselves from control by circumstances. one’s environment stretches out to encompass the whole dimension of space. if we sufficiently elevate our condition of life. thus transforming our experience of our environment into the Buddha’s land. the effects of the karma will become apparent not only in ourselves but also in our environment. and ultimately all humanity. Moreover. we can bring forth our innate Buddhahood through the Buddhist practice. Wherever we are. . For example.

and when he .The Roots B uddhism is one of the world’s oldest religions. Known as Siddhartha Gautama in his youth. At its core are the quests to understand life and to help people overcome their basic sufferings. who is said to have lived some 2. at age 19 he was a royal heir in India. His palace life was far removed from the everyday life of common people.500 years ago. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism traces its origins to the teachings of Shakyamuni.

using parables and everyday analogies in the process. After accepting food from a young girl. and on the point of death from fasting.34 The Winning Life discovered how people suffered outside the palace walls. In this way. He would engage admirer and objector alike in dialogue and discourse to convey his awareness and insight into the human condition.” neither the extreme of austerity nor of indulgence. He made it his life’s purpose to find solutions to the inescapable sufferings of life. he sat down under the “Bodhi” (a pipal) tree. while always holding to . Shakyamuni realized that their path was too extreme. He awakened to the wisdom of the “middle way. He began at once to teach anyone who would listen. he could elevate the life-condition of those he taught. Since the depth of Shakyamuni’s understanding far surpassed that of even the most learned of his day. There he entered a profound meditation and finally attained enlightenment. he had to prepare his listeners by first teaching them more easily understood doctrines. he set out to discover how to overcome the roots of basic human suffering. He sought the foremost teachers of his day and practiced the extreme forms of asceticism they advocated as the means to realize the ultimate reality of life. After following their teachings for several years.

It was only natural that a broad range of interpretive schools should emerge. which were later compiled as the Lotus Sutra. The Lotus Sutra is unique among the teachings of Buddhism because it affirms that the attainment of enlightenment is possible for all people without distinction of race. since in his fifty-year teaching career he had employed a wide variety of means by which to transmit his enlightenment to people of various capacities and circumstances. gender. The Lotus Sutra gained particular prominence as it spread through Central Asia into China. he expounded his ultimate teachings. Buddhism. various schools of Buddhism spread throughout Asia. During the final eight years of his life. social standing or education. the Korean Peninsula and Japan. as epitomized in the Lotus Sutra. he imparted to others portions of his own enlightenment. is a powerful.The Winning Life 35 his ultimate aim of showing people that they inherently possessed Buddhahood and could develop the qualities needed to conquer their sufferings. however. Following Shakyamuni’s passing. egalitarian and humanistic teaching. For some forty years following his awakening at age 30. life-affirming. confusion began to reign as to the true nature of Buddhism . At the same time.

By classifying the teachings in this manner. leading minds of the time compared and systematized the various teachings. however. the Lotus Sutra. The Daishonin realized his purpose was to reveal this ultimate truth to the people of his time and for all eternity. This standard classified Shakyamuni’s teachings according to the order in which he expounded them. T’ien-t’ai clarified that all the sutras were means of preparation for the highest teaching. It was Nichiren Daishonin in Japan. the nature of the particular doctrine taught in each sutra and the method of its exposition. and Shakyamuni and T’ien-t’ai prepared the way. Nichiren Daishonin lived from 1222 to 1282 during a . To solve the problem. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is for the present age. Hence. who took the final all-important step to transform profound theory into a simple practice and thereby enable ordinary people to reveal their highest state of life in the midst of day-to-day realities.36 The Winning Life and the relative superiority of the sutras. Eventually a scholar from China called Chih-i (later known as the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai) developed a definitive standard by which to judge them.

He subsequently dedicated his life to sharing his realization. despite facing numerous persecutions for preaching what was considered a subversive doctrine. 1253. his closest disciple. He also brought it out of the realm of theoretical contemplation into an actual experiential practice when he first chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (Devotion to the Mystic Law) on April 28. For the next six centuries. the Daishonin’s Buddhism was maintained by a relatively small religious group until the early part of the twentieth century.The Winning Life 37 tumultuous time of social unrest and natural catastrophe. Nonetheless. he gained a loyal following of believers. kept the true spirit of Buddhism alive. the Daishonin disturbed the ruling class of politicians and priests who adhered to other forms of Buddhism. and later inscribed the Gohonzon (the physical object of devotion for all humanity). he became a religious acolyte and after a period of intensive study he came to realize that the Lotus Sutra constitutes the heart of Buddhist teachings. He especially embraced ordinary people from all walks of life. The son of a fisherman. By declaring that embracing this law had the power to allow all individuals to attain enlightenment. After Nichiren Daishonin’s passing. . Nikko.

they founded the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai. Mr. or “Value Creation Education Society. As World War II progressed. Mr. he realized that they could provide the philosophical underpinnings for the value-creating education that had been his lifetime goal.” as a laypersons’ organization. After studying Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. whom he had met in 1920. was passionately dedicated to the reform of the Japanese educational system. an educator in Japan.38 The Winning Life Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871–1944). drawing its membership principally from among fellow educators. the government asked the high priest of . a course diametrically opposed to the Buddhist reverence for life. Makiguchi committed himself to practicing this Buddhism along with a young teacher. Japan was then plunging headlong into war. Toda found themselves under increasing pressure to compromise their beliefs and practice the state religion of Shintoism. He strove to develop modes of education that would unleash the potential of the individual. which emphasized rote learning over critical independent thinking. In 1930. Josei Toda (1900–58). the militarist government redoubled its efforts to crack down on all forms of dissidence. In 1928. Finally. Makiguchi and Mr.

Josei Toda survived the ordeal and was released on July 3. His resistance to the government order led to his and Mr. refusing on all counts to compromise his convictions.The Winning Life 39 Nichiren Shoshu to accept a Shinto object of worship and enshrine it at the head temple. 1945. he immediately set about rebuilding the organization. Makiguchi. however. Makiguchi. fearful of their own safety and wanting to curry favor with the authorities. just weeks before Japan’s surrender. the very thoughts that had led to his incarceration. Though physically ravaged by two years in prison. The priests. On November 18. 1944. The Soka Kyoiku Gakkai had all but disintegrated under wartime persecution. This would be in direct contradiction with the teachings and spirit of Nichiren Daishonin. endured brutality and privation in prison. It was renamed the Soka Gakkai (Value Creation Society). refused to violate the spirit of the Daishonin’s Buddhism. . Mr. without a trace of hesitation or fear. Mr. he died at 73 in the Tokyo Detention House. The records of his interrogations reveal a man propounding. Toda’s arrest and imprisonment as “thought criminals” in 1943 along with other Soka Kyoiku Gakkai leaders. at 72. accepted this governmental order to protect themselves from persecution.

culture and education. His responsibilities were assumed by Daisaku Ikeda. In 1975. Ikeda visited the United States. Ikeda had met Mr. and today. Through his international travels beginning in 1960. Toda resolved that the mission of this new organization should not be confined to the field of education but rather that it be expanded to the betterment of society as a whole. Toda shared with him in the areas of peace. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is being practiced by more than 12 million people in 128 countries under the auspices of the SGI. Toda his mentor. At the time. based on the Daishonin’s teachings.000 households by the time of his death in 1958. Ikeda has dedicated himself continually to fulfilling the visions Mr. Toda at age 19 and committed himself to practicing the ideals of the Soka Gakkai. The Soka Gakkai rapidly grew under Josei Toda’s leadership to more than 750.40 The Winning Life Mr. Ikeda has contributed greatly to Buddhism becoming a truly global religion. 1960. who became the third president on May 3. there were just a handful of people practicing this Buddhism in the United States. Mr. They were primarily . The American organization was formed in 1960 when Mr. the Soka Gakkai International was formed. making Mr. Mr. Mr.

The Winning Life 41 Japanese women who had married Americans. In 1957. The SGI believes that the development of peace. The efforts to fulfill Mr. and he called upon youth of the world to work to abolish these weapons of mass destruction. they soon grew into a nationwide organization now called the SGI-USA. as a nongovernmental organization with official ties to the United Nations. Centered on this ideal. as well as some students from Japan. the SGI. the SGI carries out activities globally. Josei Toda issued a declaration against the use of nuclear weapons. culture and education are essential to building a better world. Ikeda’s encouragement. Toda’s vision of peace have resulted in the SGI’s wide-ranging activities. Ikeda’s leadership. labeling them criminal under any circumstances. Taking up this challenge. The SGI has sponsored public information programs that aim through exhibitions. Major international exhibitions on such . symposia and other forums to promote awareness of the issues of war and peace and the feasibility of peaceful alternatives. for instance. But with Mr. has been working tirelessly to create the conditions for a peaceful world. under Mr.

. Mr. Ikeda has engaged in dialogues with international academics and intellectuals like British historian Arnold Toynbee and with policy-makers and political leaders such as Zhou Enlai. exchanging ideas on how to create world peace and better understandings among people. Personally. And the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century provides a venue for pooling wisdom and fostering dialogue among the world’s peace-oriented cultural. thus developing a network of global citizens in the pursuit of peace. he has also founded several institutions dedicated to peace and intercultural dialogue.42 The Winning Life themes as disarmament. The Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research conducts independent research and networks with peace researchers. and many other topics. Applying the spirit of Buddhism to modern times. Corazon Aquino. human rights and environmental protection have traveled throughout the world bringing public awareness of these critical issues. Mikhail Gorbachev and Nelson Mandela. philosophical and religious traditions. He has received numerous awards and recognition from universities and nations around the world for his efforts to promote peace. activists and policymakers to provide a global forum for the discussion and implementation of cooperatively designed policy strategies.

and many ideas set forth by Mr. On May 3. Education has been of central concern to the Soka Gakkai since its inception. or simply sit and watch. which is engaged in a wide-reaching program of exchange with cultural institutions throughout the world. He also founded the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum in 1983. They are forums where anyone can speak freely. From preschool to post-graduate. Mr. These neighborhood gatherings where people share experiences. encourage one another and study Buddhism together are the backbone of the SGI. Makiguchi and Mr. Meetings are held regularly in . Soka University of America will open as a full-fledged liberal arts college in Southern California. At the heart of this global movement are discussion meetings. dance and other cultural expressions. Ikeda founded the Min-On Concert Association. which has sponsored tours of performing groups from some seventy countries in order to promote understanding among diverse peoples through music.The Winning Life 43 In 1963. 2001. ask questions. the Soka system undertakes education designed to stimulate wisdom and engagement within society. Toda have been brought to fruition through the Soka School System.

There is no way to legislate. dictate or force peace onto humanity. with a diversity rarely seen in other institutions. by winning over our own lack of understanding and constantly striving to awaken the Buddha nature inside each of us. The activities are free and anyone is welcome to attend and participate.” The only way for people to live together in peace is for many individuals to awaken to the need for an inner revolution. This is proof that by overcoming our impasses. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is truly a religion that crosses all boundaries.” In our jigsaw-puzzle world. it soon becomes obvious that through each person becoming a winner and helping others to do the same. will cause a change in the destiny of all humankind. For one happy person’s influence on his or her environment will have a profound and lasting effect. . we can build a lasting world peace. society will change. then.44 The Winning Life homes or in community centers. As Daisaku Ikeda writes in the foreword to his book The Human Revolution: “A great revolution of character in an individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and further. This is Buddhism’s blueprint for world peace or “kosen-rufu.

These books are available through any local SGI-USA community center bookstore. among many others. we recommend the following books. CA 90401 (310) 260-8900 F .Suggested Reading or further information on Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. Santa Monica. or through the SGIUSA national headquarters: SGI-USA 606 Wilshire Blvd.

1–12 History of the SGI The New Human Revolution (ongoing series) Also. your favorite neighborhood or on-line bookstore carries the following Middleway Press books: The Way of Youth: Buddhist Common Sense for Handling Life’s Questions The Buddha in Your Mirror: Practical Buddhism and the Search for Self .46 The Winning Life Doctrine The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Fundamentals of Buddhism Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death Buddhist History The Life of Nichiren The Living Buddha Buddhism: The First Millennium The Flower of Chinese Buddhism History of the Soka Gakkai The Human Revolution. vols.

Living Buddhism: Journal for Peace.com Also.sgi-usa.The Winning Life 47 We also invite you to learn more about Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism through our weekly newspaper. e-mail: SGISUBS@aol. Individual copies are available at SGI-USA bookstores nationwide. World Tribune. Culture and Education. or for subscription information please call: (800) 835-4558. and monthly study magazine.org . please visit our SGI-USA website: http://www.

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